Chapter 17 Endocrine and Hematologic Emergencies National EMS Education Standard Competencies (1 of 3) Medicine Applies fundamental knowledge to provide basic emergency care and transportation based on assessment findings for an acutely ill patient. National EMS Education Standard Competencies (2 of 3) Endocrine Disorders • Awareness that: – Diabetic emergencies cause altered mental status • Anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, assessment, and management of: – Acute diabetic emergencies National EMS Education Standard Competencies (3 of 3) Hematology • Anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, assessment, and management of: – Sickle cell crisis – Clotting disorders Introduction (1 of 2) • Endocrine system affects nearly every: – Cell – Organ – Bodily function • Endocrine disorders can have many signs and symptoms. Introduction (2 of 2) • Hematologic emergencies – Rare in most EMS systems – Difficult to assess and treat – EMT offers support and may save life Anatomy and Physiology • Endocrine system is a complex message and control system. – Glands secrete hormones. – Hormones are chemical messengers. – System maintains homeostasis Pathophysiology (1 of 2) • Diabetes affects the body’s ability to use glucose (sugar) for fuel. • Occurs in about 7% of the population • Complications include blindness, cardiovascular disease, and kidney failure. Pathophysiology (2 of 2) • As an EMT, you need to know signs and symptoms of blood glucose that is: – High (hyperglycemia) – Low (hypoglycemia) • Central problem in diabetes is lack, or ineffective action, of insulin. Types of Diabetes (1 of 4) • Diabetes mellitus: “sweet diabetes” • Diabetes insipidus: excessive urination • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes both: – Are equally serious – Affect many tissues and functions – Require life-long management. Types of Diabetes (2 of 4) • Type 1 patients do not produce insulin. – Need daily injections of insulin – Typically develops during childhood – Patients more likely to have metabolic problems and organ damage – Considered an autoimmune problem Types of Diabetes (3 of 4) • Type 2 patients produce inadequate amounts of insulin, or normal amount that does not function effectively. – Usually appears later in life – Treatment may be diet, exercise, oral medications, or insulin. Types of Diabetes (4 of 4) • Severity of diabetic complications depends on patient’s average blood glucose level and when diabetes began. • Obesity increases the risk of diabetes. The Role of Glucose and Insulin (1 of 8) • Glucose is a major source of energy for the body. • Insulin is needed to allow glucose to enter cells (except for brain cells). – A “cellular key” The Role of Glucose and Insulin (2 of 8) The Role of Glucose and Insulin (3 of 8) • Classic symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes (“3 Ps”): – Polyuria: frequent, plentiful urination – Polydipsia: frequent drinking to satisfy continuous thirst – Polyphagia: excessive eating The Role of Glucose and Insulin (4 of 8) • When glucose is unavailable, the body turns to other energy sources. – Fat is most abundant. – Using fat for energy results in buildup of ketones and fatty acids in blood and tissue. The Role of Glucose and Insulin (5 of 8) • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – A form of acidosis seen in uncontrolled diabetes – Without insulin, certain acids accumulate. – More common in type 1 diabetes – Signs and symptoms: • Weakness • Nausea The Role of Glucose and Insulin (6 of 8) • DKA – Signs and symptoms (cont’d): • Weak, rapid pulse • Kussmaul respirations • Sweet breath – Can progress to coma and death The Role of Glucose and Insulin (7 of 8) • Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic (HHNC) nonketotic coma – More often caused by type 2 diabetes – Slower, more gradual onset than DKA – No sweet-smelling breath – Excessive urination results in dehydration. The Role of Glucose and Insulin (8 of 8) Source: Accu-Chek® Aviva used with permission of Roche Diagnostics. Blood glucose monitoring kit Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia (1 of 3) • Both lead to diabetic emergencies. • Hyperglycemia: Blood glucose is above normal. – Result of lack of insulin – Untreated, results in DKA Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia (2 of 3) • Hypoglycemia: Blood glucose is below normal. – Untreated, results in unresponsiveness and hypoglycemic crisis • Signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are similar. Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia (3 of 3) Hyperglycemic Crisis (1 of 3) • Hyperglycemic crisis (diabetic coma) is a state of unconsciousness resulting from: – Ketoacidosis – Hyperglycemia – Dehydration – Excess blood glucose Hyperglycemic Crisis (2 of 3) • Can occur in diabetic patients: – Not under medical treatment – Who have taken insufficient insulin – Who have markedly overeaten – Under stress due to infection, illness, overexertion, fatigue, or alcohol Hyperglycemic Crisis (3 of 3) • If untreated, can result in death • Treatment may take hours in a wellcontrolled hospital setting. Hypoglycemic Crisis (1 of 3) • Hypoglycemic crisis (insulin shock) is caused by insufficient levels of glucose in the blood. • Can occur in insulin-dependent patients: – Who have taken too much insulin – Who have taken a regular dose of insulin but have not eaten enough food Hypoglycemic Crisis (2 of 3) • Can occur in insulin-dependent patients (cont’d): – Who have engaged in vigorous activity and used up all available glucose – Who have vomited a meal after taking insulin • Insufficient glucose supply to the brain Hypoglycemic Crisis (3 of 3) • If untreated, it can produce unconsciousness and death. • Quickly reversed by giving glucose Patient Assessment of Diabetes • Patient assessment steps – Scene size-up – Primary assessment – History taking – Secondary assessment – Reassessment Scene Size-up • Scene safety – Diabetic patients often use syringes for insulin. – Use gloves and eye protection at a minimum. • Mechanism of injury (MOI)/nature of illness (NOI) – Remember, trauma may also have occurred. Primary Assessment (1 of 4) • Form a general impression. – Other medical or trauma emergencies may be responsible for diabetic patient’s symptoms • Airway and breathing – Be alert for Kussmaul respirations and sweet, fruity breath (DKA). Primary Assessment (2 of 4) • Airway and breathing (cont’d) – Hypoglycemic patients will have normal or shallow to rapid respirations. – Manage respiratory distress. Primary Assessment (3 of 4) • Circulation – Dry, warm skin: hyperglycemia – Moist, pale skin: hypoglycemia – Rapid, weak pulse: hyperglycemic crisis Primary Assessment (4 of 4) • Transport decision – Provide prompt transport for patients with altered mental status and inability to swallow – Further evaluate conscious patients capable of swallowing and able to maintain airway History Taking (1 of 3) • Investigate chief complaint – Obtain history of present illness from responsive patient, family, or bystanders. – If patient has eaten but not taken insulin, hyperglycemia is more likely. History Taking (2 of 3) • Investigate chief complaint (cont’d) – If patient has taken insulin but not eaten, hypoglycemia is more likely. – Carefully observe signs and symptoms; determine whether hypo- or hyperglycemic. History Taking (3 of 3) • SAMPLE history—Has the patient: – Taken insulin or pills to lower blood sugar? – Taken his or her usual dose today? – Eaten normally? – Experienced illness, unusual amount of activity, or stress? Secondary Assessment (1 of 2) • Physical examination – Full-body scan – Focus on mental status, ability to swallow, and ability to protect airway. Secondary Assessment (2 of 2) • Vital signs – Obtain complete set of vital signs. • Use available monitoring devices (eg, glucometer, pulse oximeter). • Normal blood glucose: 80 to 120 mg/dL Reassessment (1 of 4) • Interventions – Reassess patient frequently. – Provide indicated interventions. • Hypoglycemic, conscious, can swallow: – Encourage patient to drink juice. – Administer oral glucose (if protocols allow). – Provide rapid transport. Reassessment (2 of 4) • Interventions (cont’d) – Hypoglycemic, unconscious, risk of aspiration: • Patient needs intravenous (IV) glucose or intramuscular (IM) glucagon (beyond EMT competencies). • Provide rapid transport. Reassessment (3 of 4) • Interventions (cont’d). – Unconscious, known diabetic: • If hypoglycemic, give oral glucose (if protocols allow). • If hyperglycemic, patient needs insulin and IV fluid therapy (beyond EMT competencies). – When in doubt, give glucose (if protocols allow). Reassessment (4 of 4) • Communication and Documentation – Coordinate communication and documentation – Inform receiving hospital about prehospital patient assessment and care. Emergency Medical Care for Diabetic Emergencies (1 of 2) • Oral glucose – Commercially available gel given to increase blood glucose Source: Courtesy of Paddock Laboratories, Inc. – Follow local protocols for administration (Skill Drill 17-1). Emergency Medical Care for Diabetic Emergencies (2 of 2) • Oral glucose (cont’d) – Contraindications: inability to swallow and unconsciousness – Wear gloves before putting anything in patient’s mouth. Problems Associated With Diabetes (1 of 7) • Seizures – Rarely life threatening – May indicate an underlying condition – Consider trauma and hypoglycemia as causes. – Ensure airway is clear. – Place patient on side. Problems Associated With Diabetes (2 of 7) • Seizures (cont’d) – Put nothing in patient’s mouth. – Have suctioning equipment ready. – Provide oxygen or artificial ventilations for inadequate respirations or cyanosis. – Transport promptly. Problems Associated With Diabetes (3 of 7) • Altered mental status – May be caused by diabetes complications – May be caused by other conditions (poisoning, head injury, postictal state, or decreased brain perfusion) – Ensure airway is clear. Problems Associated With Diabetes (4 of 7) • Altered mental status (cont’d) – Be prepared to provide artificial ventilations and suctioning if patient vomits. – Provide prompt transport. • Alcoholism – Symptoms mistaken for intoxication Problems Associated With Diabetes (5 of 7) • Alcoholism (cont’d) – Especially common when symptoms result in a motor vehicle crash or other incident – Confined by police in a “drunk tank,” the diabetic patient is at risk. – Look for emergency medical identification bracelet, necklace, or card. Problems Associated With Diabetes (6 of 7) • Alcoholism (cont’d) – Perform blood glucose test at scene (if protocols allow) or emergency department. – Diabetes and alcoholism can coexist in a patient. Problems Associated With Diabetes (7 of 7) • Airway management – Patients with altered mental status can lose gag reflex. – Vomit or tongue may obstruct airway. – Carefully monitor airway. – Place patient in lateral recumbent position. – Make sure suction is available. Hematologic Emergencies • Hematology is the study and prevention of blood-related diseases. • Blood is “the fluid of life.” – Understanding it helps understand disorders. Anatomy and Physiology • Blood is made up of cells and plasma. – Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the tissues. – White blood cells “clean” the body. – Platelets are essential for clot formation. – Plasma transports blood cells. Pathophysiology (1 of 10) • Sickle cell disease – Inherited disorder, affects red blood cells – Predominant in African Americans and persons of Mediterranean descent – Red blood cells are sickle or oblong shaped, contain hemoglobin S, are poor oxygen carriers, and live for only 16 days. Pathophysiology (2 of 10) • Sickle cell disease (cont’d) – May cause hypoxia; swelling or rupture of blood vessels or spleen; and death – Four main types of sickle cell crises: • Vaso-occlusive crisis • Aplastic crisis • Hemolytic crisis • Splenic sequestration crisis Pathophysiology (3 of 10) • Sickle cell disease (cont’d) – Vaso-occlusive crisis • Blood flow to organs is restricted – Aplastic crisis • Worsening of baseline anemia – Hemolytic crisis • Acute, accelerated drop in hemoglobin level – Splenic sequestration crisis • Acute enlargement of spleen Pathophysiology (4 of 10) • Sickle cell disease (cont’d) – Complications: • Cerebral vascular attack • Gallstones • Jaundice • Avascular necrosis Pathophysiology (5 of 10) • Sickle cell disease (cont’d) – Complications (cont’d) • Splenic infections • Osteomyelitis • Opiate tolerance • Leg ulcers Pathophysiology (6 of 10) • Sickle cell disease (cont’d) – Complications (cont’d) • Retinopathy • Chronic pain • Pulmonary hypertension • Chronic renal failure Pathophysiology (7 of 10) • Clotting disorders – Thrombosis • Development of blood clot in blood vessel – Thrombophilia • Tendency to develop blood clots • Blood-thinning medications used to treat Pathophysiology (8 of 10) • Clotting disorders (cont’d) – Thrombophilia (cont’d) • Not common in pediatric patients • Risk factors: – Recent surgery, impaired mobility, congestive heart failure, cancer, respiratory failure, infectious diseases, over 40 years of age, being overweight/ obesity, smoking, oral contraceptive use Pathophysiology (9 of 10) • Clotting disorders (cont’d) – Hemophilia • Congenital; impaired ability to form blood clots • Predominant in males (1 per 5,000–10,000) • Hemophilia A most common • Hemophilia B second most common Pathophysiology (10 of 10) • Clotting disorders (cont’d) – Hemophilia (cont’d) • Signs and symptoms: – Spontaneous, acute, chronic bleeding – Intracranial bleeding (major cause of death) • During assessment, seriously consider injury/illness that can cause bleeding. Patient Assessment of Hematologic Disorders • Patient assessment steps – Scene size-up – Primary assessment – History taking – Secondary assessment – Reassessment Scene Size-up • Scene safety – Wear gloves and eye protection at a minimum. • MOI/NOI – Remember, trauma may also have occurred. Primary Assessment (1 of 3) • Form a general impression. – Perform a rapid scan • Airway and breathing – Inadequate breathing or altered mental status: • High-flow oxygen at 12 to 15 L/min via NRB mask Primary Assessment (2 of 3) • Airway and breathing (cont’d) – Sickle cell crisis patients may have increased respirations or signs of pneumonia – Manage respiratory distress. Primary Assessment (3 of 3) • Circulation – Sickle cell patients: increased pulse rate – Hemophilia patients: • Be alert for signs of acute blood loss. • Note bleeding of unknown origin. • Be alert for signs of hypoxia. • Make a transport decision. History Taking (1 of 3) • Investigate chief complaint. – Obtain history of present illness from responsive patients, family, or bystanders. – Physical signs indicating sickle cell crisis: • Swelling of fingers and toes • Priapism • Jaundice History Taking (2 of 3) • Assess pain using OPQRST mnemonic. – Single location or felt throughout body? – Visual disturbances? – Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal cramping? – Chest pain or shortness of breath? History Taking (3 of 3) • Obtain SAMPLE history from responsive patient or family member. – Have you had a crisis before? – When was the last time you had a crisis? – How did your last crisis resolve? – Recent illness, unusual amount of activity, or stress? Secondary Assessment • Physical examination – Focus on major joints. – Determine level of consciousness (AVPU). • Vital signs – Obtain complete set of vital signs. • Look for signs of sickle cell crisis. • Use pulse oximeter, if available. Reassessment (1 of 2) • Reassess vital signs frequently. • Interventions – Provide indicated interventions – Reassess interventions • Hospital care for sickle cell crisis: – Analgesics, penicillin, IV fluid, blood transfusion Reassessment (2 of 2) • Hospital care for hemophilia: – IV therapy (for hypotension) – Transfusion of plasma • Coordinate communication and documentation. Emergency Medical Care for Hematologic Disorders • Mainly supportive and symptomatic • Patients with inadequate breathing or altered mental status: – Administer high-flow O2 at 12 to 15 L/min. – Place in a position of comfort. – Transport rapidly to hospital. Summary (1 of 12) • The endocrine system maintains stability in the body’s internal environment (homeostasis). • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes involve abnormalities in the body’s ability to use glucose (sugar) for fuel. Summary (2 of 12) • Polyuria (frequent, plentiful urination), polydipsia (frequent drinking to satisfy continuous thirst), and polyphagia (excessive eating due to cellular hunger) are common symptoms, or the “3 Ps,” of uncontrolled diabetes. Summary (3 of 12) • Patients with diabetes have chronic complications that place them at risk for other diseases. • Hyperglycemia is the result of a lack of insulin, causing high blood glucose levels. Summary (4 of 12) • Hypoglycemia is a state in which the blood glucose level is below normal. Without treatment, permanent brain damage and death can occur. • DKA is the buildup of ketones and fatty acids in the blood and body tissue that results when the body relies upon fat for energy. Summary (5 of 12) • Hyperglycemic crisis (diabetic coma) is a state of unconsciousness resulting from DKA, hyperglycemia, and/or dehydration due to excessive urination. Summary (6 of 12) • Hypoglycemic crisis (insulin shock) is caused by insufficient blood glucose levels. Treat quickly, by giving oral glucose (if protocols allow), to avoid brain damage. Summary (7 of 12) • When assessing diabetic emergencies, err on the side of giving oral glucose (if protocols allow). Do not give oral glucose to patients who are unconscious or who cannot swallow properly and protect the airway. In all cases, provide rapid transport. Summary (8 of 12) • Problems associated with diabetes include seizures, altered mental status, “intoxicated” appearance, and loss of a gag reflex, which affects airway management. • Hematology is the study and prevention of blood-related disorders. Summary (9 of 12) • Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder the affects the shape of red blood cells. Symptoms include joint pain, fever, respiratory distress, and abdominal pain. Summary (10 of 12) • Hemoglobin A is considered normal hemoglobin. Hemoglobin S is considered an abnormal type of hemoglobin and is responsible for sickle cell crisis. Summary (11 of 12) • Patients with sickle cell disease have chronic complications that place them at risk for other diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and infection. Summary (12 of 12) • Patients with hemophilia are not able to control bleeding. • Emergency care in the prehospital setting is supportive for patients with sickle disease or a clotting disorder such as hemophilia. Review 1. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which: A. too much insulin is produced. B. glucose utilization is impaired. C. too much glucose enters the cell. D. the body does not produce glucose. Review Answer: B Rationale: Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin (or none at all). Insulin is a hormone that promotes the uptake of sugar from the bloodstream and into the cells. Without insulin, glucose utilization is impaired because it cannot enter the cell. Review 2. A 45-year-old man with type 1 diabetes is found unresponsive. Which of the following questions is MOST important to ask his wife? A. “Did he take his insulin today?” B. “How long has he been a diabetic?” C. “Has he seen his physician recently?” D. “What kind of insulin does he take?” Review Answer: A Rationale: All of these questions are important to ask the spouse of an unconscious diabetic. However, it is critical to ask if the patient took his insulin. This will help you differentiate hypoglycemic crisis from hyperglycemic crisis. For example, if the patient took his insulin and did not eat, or accidentally took too much insulin, you should suspect hypoglycemic crisis. If the patient did not take his insulin, you should suspect hyperglycemic crisis. Review 3. A diabetic patient presents with a blood glucose level of 310 mg/dL and severe dehydration. The patient’s dehydration is the result of: A. excretion of glucose and water from the kidneys. B. a deficiency of insulin that causes internal fluid loss. C. an infection that often accompanies hyperglycemia. D. an inability to produce energy because of insulin depletion. Review Answer: A Rationale: In severe hyperglycemia, the kidneys excrete excess glucose from the body. This process requires a large amount of water to accomplish; therefore, water is excreted with the glucose, resulting in dehydration. Review 4. Which combination of factors would MOST likely cause a hypoglycemic crisis in a diabetic patient? A. Eating a meal and taking insulin B. Skipping a meal and taking insulin C. Eating a meal and not taking insulin D. Skipping a meal and not taking insulin Review Answer: B Rationale: The combination that would most likely cause a hypoglycemic crisis is skipping a meal and taking insulin. The patient will use up all available glucose in the bloodstream and become hypoglycemic. Left untreated, hypoglycemic crisis may cause permanent brain damage or even death. Review 5. A 19-year-old diabetic male was found unresponsive on the couch by his roommate. After confirming that the patient is unresponsive, you should: A. suction his oropharynx. B. manually open his airway. C. administer high-flow oxygen. D. begin assisting his ventilations. Review Answer: B Rationale: Immediately after determining that a patient is unresponsive, your first action should be to manually open his or her airway (eg, head tilt–chin lift, jaw-thrust). Use suction as needed to clear secretions from the patient’s mouth. After manually opening the airway and ensuring it is clear of obstructions, insert an airway adjunct and then assess the patient’s breathing. Review 6. What breathing pattern would you MOST likely encounter in a patient with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)? A. Slow and shallow B. Shallow and irregular C. Rapid and deep D. Slow and irregular Review Answer: C Rationale: Kussmaul respirations—a rapid and deep breathing pattern seen in patients with DKA—indicates that the body is attempting to eliminate ketones via the respiratory system. A fruity or acetone breath odor is usually present in patients with Kussmaul respirations. Review 7. A woman called EMS because her 12year-old son, who had been experiencing excessive urination, thirst, and hunger for the past 36 hours, has an altered mental status and is breathing fast. You should be MOST suspicious for: A. B. C. D. low blood sugar. hypoglycemia. hypoglycemic crisis. hyperglycemic crisis. Review Answer: D Rationale: The child is experiencing a hyperglycemic crisis secondary to severe hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemic crisis is characterized by a slow onset; excessive urination (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), and hunger (polyphagia). Other signs include rapid, deep breathing with a fruity or acetone breath odor (Kussmaul respirations); a rapid, thready pulse; and an altered mental status. Review 8. If the cells do not receive glucose, they will begin to metabolize: A. fat. B. acid. C. sugar. D. ketones. Review Answer: A Rationale: If the body’s cells do not receive glucose, they will begin to metabolize the next most readily available substance—fat. Fat metabolism results in the production of ketoacids, which are released into the bloodstream (hence the term “ketoacidosis”). Review 9. In contrast to a hyperglycemic crisis, a hypoglycemic crisis: A. rarely presents with seizures. B. presents over a period of hours to days. C. should not routinely be treated with glucose. D. usually responds immediately after treatment. Review Answer: D Rationale: Hypoglycemic crisis usually responds immediately following treatment with glucose. Patients with hyperglycemic crisis generally respond to treatment gradually, within 6–12 hours following the appropriate treatment. Seizures can occur with both hyperglycemic crisis and hypoglycemic crisis, but are more common in patients with hypoglycemic crisis. Review 10. Patients with diabetic ketoacidosis experience polydipsia because: A. they are dehydrated secondary to excessive urination. B. the cells of the body are starved due to a lack of glucose. C. fatty acids are being metabolized at the cellular level. D. hyperglycemia usually causes severe internal water loss. Review Answer: A Rationale: Severe hyperglycemia—which leads to diabetic ketoacidosis—causes the body to excrete large amounts of glucose and water. As a result, the patient becomes severely dehydrated, which leads to excessive thirst (polydipsia). Review 11. When dealing with hematologic disorders, the EMT must be familiar with the composition of blood. Which of the following is considered a hematologic disease? A. Sickle cell disease B. Hemophilia C. Lou Gehrig’s disease D. Both A and B Review Answer: D Rationale: Hematology is the study and prevention of blood-related diseases, such as sickle cell disease and hemophilia. Review 12. What are the two main components of blood? A. Erythrocytes and hemoglobin B. Cells and plasma C. Leukocytes and white blood cells D. Platelets and neutrophils Review Answer: B Rationale: The blood is made up of two main components: cells and plasma. The cells in the blood include red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets. These cells are suspended in a straw-colored fluid called plasma. Review 13. The assessment of a patient with a hematologic disorder is the same as it is with all other patients an EMT will encounter. The EMT must perform a scene size-up, primary assessment, history taking, secondary assessment, and reassessment. In addition to obtaining a SAMPLE history, EMTs should ask which of the following questions? A. B. C. D. Have you had a crisis before? When was the last time you had a crisis? How did your crisis resolve? All of the above Review Answer: D Rationale: SAMPLE is the mnemonic used in taking the history of all patients. In addition to asking the SAMPLE, EMTs should also ask about past crises. Review 14. Which one of the following is NOT an appropriate treatment for EMTs to provide to a patient who has a hematologic disorder? A. B. C. D. Analgesics for pain Support of symptoms High-flow oxygen therapy at 12 to 15 L/min Rapid transport Review Answer: A Rationale: Although analgesics would benefit a patient suffering from a hematologic disorder, the administration of such medications is not in the scope of practice for the EMT. ALS providers would have to be present to provide this emergency care. Credits • Opener: Courtesy of Jason Pack/FEMA. • Background slide images: © Jones & Bartlett Learning. Courtesy of MIEMSS.